Why Does Sen. Wyden Want to Exempt Oregon From ObamaCare's Individual Mandate?


Why is Sen. Ron Wyden, one of the staunchest Democratic health care advocates advocates, pushing to exempt his home state of Oregon from the new health care law's individual mandate? It's hard to avoid seeing a political motivation here; the mandate, which requires every American to purchase health insurance, is consistently the least popular provision in the law. But it's not a desperation move. Polls show him leading his GOP opponent by a full 20 points. And of course, Wyden won't admit that there's a political motivation. Instead, he is arguing that it's a result of his belief in preserving and expanding the power of choice and competition—which is fair enough considering the dwindling choice and competition we're already seeing in Georgia's health insurance market—although as far as I can tell, what he's primarily talking about is preserving the power of state governments:

And, of course, no state-based approach—no matter how innovative—can work if everyone who participates in the state program gets fined by the federal government for failing to comply with the federal mandate.

Still, he has a point about local innovation: Any state or local government that wanted to experiment with health care policy would have a difficult time doing so if forced to follow the PPACA's requirements.

For more on how ObamaCare burdens state governments, pick up a copy of Reason's October issue.